Fake cops held for robberies

2018-07-04 16:18
Seven arrested after targeting Imbali tuck-shops.

Seven arrested after targeting Imbali tuck-shops. (File)

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Men wearing police uniforms and driving a blue-light vehicle were arrested after they had robbed several tuckshops in the Imbali area on Monday night.

It was reported that nine men, two of whom were dressed in full police uniform, had driven around the Imbali area in a blue-light vehicle.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said the men had entered several tuckshops in the area and impersonated police officers. He said once the impersonators were inside the tuckshop, they called the rest of the men who then robbed the tuckshops of cash and other goods.

Ngobese said the police were called after the first tuckshop was robbed and the Pietermaritzburg K9 Unit along with the Plessislaer Task Team officers responded.

He said the men were found in their vehicle at Imbali Unit 14 at around 9 pm on Monday.

He said seven men were arrested, however, the two men in police uniform are still being sought by police.

The seven men would be charged with robbery and are expected to appear in court soon, he said. The other two men in uniform would be charged with impersonating a police officer when they are arrested.

Ngobese said they would be investigating where the two police uniforms came from.

He said if people suspected someone was impersonating a police officer, they should not allow the person access to their business or home unless the officer has shown them their police appointment certificate.

“If they cannot produce the certificate, call the police immediately and observe all you can such as the registration of the vehicle the impersonator is using, and a description of their appearance.”

Independent police and crime analyst expert Dr Johan Burger said on Tuesday that this modus operandi was not a new trend but was a crime that had been happening for a while.

He said this sort of crime was damaging toward police as people would become suspicious of official police officers and view them “as police gone bad”.

“Bogus police create a huge problem for the police service,” he said.

“When the arrests of the men impersonating police are made, they must investigate how they got hold of the uniforms because if there is collusion between police and criminals, the police responsible need to be held accountable. To be in possession of a police uniform is illegal but the punishment is not severe.”

Burger said more severe penalties needed to be put in place to stop the impersonation of officers.

He added that once police were retired or dismissed, their uniforms and police appointment certificates should be taken away from them as well.

“Once you leave the force, there is no authority attached to your title when you were a police officer,” said Burger. “Once you leave the force, you are a normal citizen with none of the powers or authority that police have.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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